A Dictionary of ______ Japanese Grammar v.s. A Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns for Teachers and Learners

The title says it all, whether the legendary trio (or so they say) or the not so popular. (I think)

I have both the Basic and Intermediate book from the DoJG series and the Handbook of Japanese Grammar.
I wouldn’t bother to buy the DoJG series again… content, price, practical use (all in one book) for me it’s a no brainer.:man_shrugging:

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Plus, at least the Basic one from DoJG is full of romaji, which I find incredibly distracting.


I have all 4 books and use them frequently.

That would be the best option, but I cant afford all 4, that is why, need to make a decision, but there’s very little information on A Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns on the internet.

@Leebo From your experience with all four books which of these options is best and worst?

  • Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns only
  • Entire DoJG series
  • Beginner DoJG book only
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I can think of various people for whom each of those would be best.

I just meant quality and content-wise. More of a general evaluation than targeted to a specific individual.

What does the Handbook do better than the DoJG set? Or is it just because it’s cheaper and in a single book?

Is there absolutely no romaji in Handbook of Japanese Grammar? DoJG set looks great on the shelf but I don’t really understand the point of having each grammar point in romaji when everything else is not. If you can’t read Japanese what’s the point of the title being in romaji if you can’t understand the rest of the content?

I haven’t seen the Handbook of Japanese Grammar but aside from the first volume (which has romaji for all example sentences), the only romaji in the Dictionary of Japanese Grammar series is in the grammar entry names which are also written in hiragana/kanji at the top of each of their entries. I assume this is to make things easier to look up since the dictionary is in English alphabetical order (ABC) versus aiueo order.

I don’t like romaji either but I don’t think this is a problem in the second and third volumes. It would have been nice if they had just used furigana for the kanji in the first volume too though instead of writing all of the example sentences a second time with romaji. I tend to cover the sentences with a piece of paper when I’m reading it anyway to avoid reading the translations before having a chance to process the examples so that’s one way to also ignore the romaji.

This. I’ve read the basic dictionary literally cover to cover doing exactly this in order to use the sentences both to practice the grammar point, and also to just plain practice reading.

The advanced dictionary “handbook” is pretty difficult IMO so unless you are on that level, I wouldn’t bother buying just yet. Plus if you make an overseas trip, the cost is cheaper and a great gift to yourself!

What are you referring to? It looks like you combined the advanced Dictionary of Japanese Grammar book and the Handbook of Japanese Grammar Patterns…

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A Dictionary of… is my favorite and most useful book. Probably the best I have and there is quite a bit of content for each topic. Plus it gives extensive violation examples that are also very useful. A friend showed me A Handbook… and I really like the ability to quickly reference anything. I’m a book hoarder so I may just buy that too.

This one here: https://www.amazon.co.jp/Dictionary-Advanced-Japanese-Grammar-日本語文法辞典/dp/4789012956

While the DoJG series goes into a lot of detail and it’s very well layed out, I’ve bumped with a fair amount ot terms that aren’t there. Sometimes they correspond to more informal or oral expressions, but there’s also the case where the informal version of an expression that has a proper entry there it’s not mentioned, so I have to do some extra search over the internet in order to make the connection with the corresponding entry in the dictionary.

Same for contractions. In the DoJG most of the time the written original expression it’s there, but then there’re lots of contractions for the same term, which aren’t mentioned.

I guess how much anyone notice this it’s heavily influenced by how do you study grammar. I do a lot of sentence mining and reading, so I found myself quite often looking for some expression that came out of a subtitled dialogue, hence are contractions and informal versions of the proper written form.

Then, I’m reading native content, quite basic actually (tales aimed at 1st and 2nd graders), and even so the grammar points that appear can be found in any of the three volumen of the DoJG, so that makes the whole process a bit cumbersome (specially since I only have the first two volumes).

Someone studying in a more orderly fashon, following JLPT steps accordingly, probably wouldn’t notice this to be much of a problem, as I pressume jumping from volume to volume wouldn’t be needed that much.

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If you are beginner / intermediate in your grammar studies I would recommend DBJG. I think it does a better job of explaining basic concepts (there are very detailed entries for all the particles for example). And the essay section at the beginning is worth the price of the whole book imo.

Handbook, while it has many more entries, doesn’t have detailed entries for basic things (like に for example). It has tons of に phrases with examples, but no section (i didn’t see it at least) that just lists the basic functions of the particle with examples. DBJG is really good for stuff like that.

If you are more advanced (or willing to look up basic stuff online) Handbook will have entries for alot more specific grammar constructions.


I have wanted to throw this out there because it gets commented on so much:

I get that romanji is lame for ppl who are learning japanese (it doesn’t take long to learn kana).

The reason a book like DBJG and other books will have romaji is that they are not written just for the audience of japanese language students. It is entirely standard for all lingustic texts (for example), even those written at a very high (PhD / Research) level, to be glossed in romanji. As are books written in english on historical linguistics, books on phonetics, etc.
Many texts like this are consulted by ppl studying comparitive linguistics, computer science ppl working on language parsing, etc. Not everyone who might be interested in how some aspect of Japanese grammar works are also going to be trying to learn to read japanese.

My point being, that yes, it is a hallmark of low level language instructional material to have romanji. But to just reject out of hand any text that contains romanji will actually be overlooking some of the highest level materials available in english.

As an example, easily the best text on grammar I have encountered is:


Edit: sorry, fixed link


How do you define Advanced? I know about verb conjugations and most of Tae Kim. I’ve watched over 3300+ hrs of anime, which has taught me lot of random stuff.

I don’t mind looking stuff online from time to time and since the handbook has more entries, seems like a better option since money is an issue for me.